What Do Parents Owe Their Children?
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What Do Parents Owe Their Children?

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If I had to select a word that best describes the majority of American parents that word would be guilt-rid­den. It's often sad to see parents be­coming the willing victims of the "give-me-game" only to discover that, no matter what they do, it's not enough. Finally they are despised for the lack of firmness and blamed when their children get into trouble. With this in mind I’ll try to answer the question: "What do parents owe their children?", but I’ll start with what they don't owe them.

Parents don't owe their children every minute of their day and every ounce of their energy. They don't owe them round-the-clock car service, sing­ing lessons, tennis lessons, expensive bicycles, a motorcycle or a car when they reach sixteen, or a trip to Europe when they graduate.

I take the firm position that pa­rents don't owe their children a col­lege education. If they can afford it, fine: they can certainly send them to the best universities. But they mustn't feel guilty if they can't. If the children really want to study, they’ll find a way. There are plenty of loans and scholarships for the bright and eager who can't afford to pay.

After children marry, their parents don't owe to buy a house for them or give money for the furniture. They don't have an obligation to baby-sit or to take their grandchildren in their home when the parents are on vaca­tion. If they want to do it, it must be considered as a favor, not an obliga­tion.

In my opinion, parents don't owe their children an inheritance, no matter how much money they have. One of the surest ways to produce a loafer is to let children know that their fu­ture is assured.

Do parents owe their children any­thing? Yes, they owe them a great deal.

One of their chief obligations is to give their children a sense of personal worth, because self-esteem is the basis of a good mental health. A youngster who is constantly made to feel stupid, constantly compared to brighter broth­ers, sisters or cousins, will become so unsure, so afraid of failing, that he (or she) won't try at all. Of course, they should be corrected when they do wrong - this is the way children learn. But the criticism should be balanced with praises, preferably with a smile and a kiss. No child is ever too old to be hugged.

Parents owe their children firm guidance and consistent discipline. It's frightening for a youngster to feel that he is in charge of himself; it's like being in a car without brakes.

Parents owe their children some religious training. The fact that so many strange cults are enjoying such suc­cess is proof that children feel the need for something spiritual in their life.

Parents owe their children a com­fortable feeling about their body, and enough information about sex to bal­ance the misinformation that they will certainly get from their friends.

Parents owe their children privacy and respect for their personal belong­ings. This means not borrowing things without permission, not reading dia­ries and mail, not looking through purses, pockets and drawers. If a mother feels that she must read her daugh­ter's diary to know what is going on, the communication between them must be pretty bad.

Parents owe their children a set of solid values around which to build their lives. This means teaching them to respect the rights and opinions of others; it means being respectful to elders, to teachers and to the law. The best way to teach such values is by example. A child who is lied to will lie. A child who sees his parents steal tools from the factory or towels from a hotel will think that it's all right to steal.

No child asks to be born. If you bring a life into the world, you owe the child something. And if you give him his due, hell have something of value to pass along to your grandchil­dren.



Translate into English.

избаловать ребенка самоуважение
главная обязанность чувство собственного достоинства
попасть в неприятности добровольная жертва
большинство родителей недостаток твердости/строгости
испытывать нужду в ч.-л. обнаружить
учить примером Занимать твердую позицию
брать вещи без разрешения сидеть с ребенком
уважать мнение других сравнивать к.-л. с к.-л.

Now make some sentences of your own with these words and word combinations.


Put in the right word or word combination into each gap.

are escaping home life
homeless return
the bright lights to earn
the ages leave
the freedom younger
on the streets runs out
begging or busking

There are about 75,000 a) _____ people in London. Most of them are between b) _____ of seventeen and twenty five. Every year in Britain, over 5,000 young people c) _____ home. Most of these young people are over sixteen but some are even d) _____ . Most of them e) _____ from an unhappy f) _____ but a few of them want g) _____ of a big city and a chance h) _____ some money. When their money i) _____, some start j) _____ to earn money. They start living k) _____ and sleeping in doorways or in squats. Many of them l) _____ home after a few months but the rest stay. Some say they prefer m) _____ of the streets to life at home.


Put in the right preposition.

1) Grandparents don’t owe to baby-sit ______ their grandchildren while their parents are _____ vacation.

2) Some young people prefer leaving home _____ staying _____ their parents.

3) Young people have to spend a lot _____ money _____ toys _____ their babies.

4) When a youngster gets _____ trouble he is sometimes afraid _____ asking his parents _____ help.

5) It’s frightening _____ a youngster to feel that he’s _____ charge _____ himself.

6) Parents shouldn’t blame their children _____ mistakes.

7) When young people leave their homes they have to look _____ a place to live _____.

8) I cannot understand children who are rude _____ their parents: shout _____ them, don’t listen _____ them.

9) When he left home, his attitude _____ his parents seemed to change.

10) Parents owe their children privacy and respect _____ their personal belongings.


Fill in the correct word derived from the word in brackets.

As your children move towards _____ (depend) it’s important to make sure they understand what decent values are. To prevent them from becoming _____ (spoil) and _____ (greed) you shouldn’t indulge them too much. To make sure they grow up well- _____ (manner) they should be (teach) to be polite from an early age. Children should be scolded for bad _____ (behave), which will be an _____ (effect) way of helping them to _____ (distinct) right from wrong. You need to reward your children when they do things well to give them a sense of _____ (proud). You should try to make your children _____ (tolerate) and _____ (respect) of other people’s _____ (believe) by exposing them to _____ (differ) races and cultures. Parents should try to place great _____ (important) on setting a good example to their children, as children’s _____ (behave) is often an _____ (imitate) of that of their parents’.


Translate into English.

1) Печально видеть, как многие родители становятся добровольными жертвами игры «дай мне».

2) Многие дети ждут, что их родители посвятят им всю свою жизнь без остатка.

3) Согласие дедушек и бабушек посидеть с внуками должно рассматриваться как одолжение, а не как обязанность.

4) Я не понимаю молодых родителей, которые требуют, чтобы бабушки и дедушки посидели с внуками.

5) Ребенок, который видит, как его родители воруют, в один прекрасный день сам начнет воровать.


Points for discussion.

1) Do you agree with Ann Landers’s opinion? Do you disagree with anything she says?

2) Do you think that children prefer firm parents or parents who let them do what they want? What can you say about your parents?

3) Are teenagers really frightened when they feel that they are in charge of themselves?

4) Do you agree that boys like girls should know how to clean house, cook, sew buttons, wash their clothes and so on?

5) Do parents have the right to know where their children are, with whom, and when they will be home? Do parents have the right to forbid their children to communicate with some of their friends they don’t like?

6) Which is best: to be the oldest child in a family, the youngest child or in between.

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